Many of you have heard of the passing of Mark Adams, THE bass legend of Slave. For fans and musicians, this is a shock, especially at the age he was. Even in his passing, he created and left a legacy of bass playing style and finesse that, in my mind, is unparalleled in every sense of the word. There are MANY bass legends in R&B and Funk – all of who you know about. This blog post is primarily a reflection of my perspective of not necessarily Slave, the group, but the bassist, Mark Adams – his unique bass playing style and influence on me as a musician.
I first discovered of Slave when Slide came out in ’77. At the time I was 14 or 15 years old and had been playing guitar for about a year. Back then, there were a lot of guys my age in my neighborhood, and as it customarily was, neighborhood bands were all over the city. Me and the fellas formed such a band, we were all within 2 – 3 years of each other in age (shout out to three band members I am still in touch with today, Tony Matthews, trumpeter, Damon Williams, guitarist (and now bassist) and Julien X. Neals (bassist)). We formed a group entitled “Black Frost” right around the time the Slide came out (maybe before). We were just beginning to write, compose, and play songs in our own right – covers and originals. I distinctly remember us sitting around whoever’s house we rehearsed at, listening to Slave – the horn arrangements, vocals, guitar, drums, and Mr. Mark’s nasty bass playing. We used call the bass track in Slide, the track with that “pure E”, resounding from the first note he opened the song with, and then into the bass solo. Not only did we marvel over that bass track, but we get even more detail of it in “Son of Slide”. Even that smooth track, You and Me, and that signature Ohio funk track “Separated” showed Mark’s nasty style. He had to be no more than 2 – 3 years older than me at the time and I was the oldest member of our group. Although a few members of Slave were older, we continually marveled at how funky Mark was at that young age. Never seeing Slave in concert during the first album, we always wondered what kind of bass he played to get that signature slide, tone, and raunchy deep growl he continually became known for.
At the time because they were just signed to Cotillion Records, Steve Washington went to school in my hometown, and Slave rehearsed there as well, I didn’t know until a short time later that they hailed from Ohio. Original members Orion Wilhoite and Carter Bradley shared an apartment in Orange. NJ, and did some recording at West Orange’s House of Music recording studio. You probably know the story… Steve Washington already had fame in his own right be being related to Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks of the Ohio Players. Steve left East Orange, NJ to finish his last year of HS in Dayton and had a band with high-school buddies Mark Hicks and Tim Dozier called Black Satin Soul. When Black Satin Soul eventually fused with the Young Mystics Floyd Miller, Mark “The Hansolor”, Adams and Thomas Lockett another band of high schoolers, The band’s name was originally “Congress”, however needing a new name, band member, Floyd Miller walks in with a T-shirt with the name “Slave” written across the front, and “Master” on the back, all were in agreement to choose the band’s new name: SLAVE. Steve’s father purchased them their first P.A system and Mark Hick’s father bought them their first amp and a couple of guitars, Slave began their journey. Practicing in Hicks’ father’s garage, they held their first concert performance at a “The Roth High School” Talent Show. Slave’s first rehearsal, according to Thomas Lockett, as at Tim Dozier’s house on October 2, 1975. Arriving in New Jersey, via a long road trip in Tim Dozier’s cargo van the band lived in the Washington’s home while preparing their demo. They’ve only performed live twice before being signed by Cotillion. The first show was April 1, 1976 at Roth HS, and their second show was a prom night for Fairview High School, according to member Floyd Miller. Their hit “Slide” was written, arranged and recorded in the living room of Washington’s parents home. Once completed the demo was presented to Jeff “Free 1” Dixon, an established program director at WNJR-AM in New Jersey, who would assist in getting the band a record deal. They recorded their hit Slide, in one take, at a small studio in Sayreville, NJ, along with the rest of the debut and Mark was either 16 or 17 when that monstrous bass track was recorded in studio. Though doors were closed, an open door came with the newly formed Cotillion Label, when Henry Allen, President of Cotillion signed the young group.
When “Hardness Of The World” came out later that year, the back of the album jacket showed them in concert, with Mark playing that Alembic Bass (see above)…a bass guitar already revered by all of us. We knew that the Alembic was the bass that created the magic, but as some of us know, it’s really the Fender Jazz Bass that Mark rocked like a monster, as far as I know. I chose that picture out of all I’ve seen because I think it captures the defintion of Mark’s playing style, definitely nasty, definitely funky. The one below is a widely known one from the spot they did on Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert.
Here’s the 14 min appearance on the show.
Hardness Of The World showed more of Mark’s developing signature style, on tracks like Volcano Rupture, Party Song, and The World’s On Hard. What Mark established from the debut album was that “slide”, and he had a way of placing it, whether it was up or down the neck, that was unique. By this time, Slave always was becoming known not only as one of the hottest new R&B bands, but a funk rock band, evidenced from tracks like Slide and, Volcano Rupture. Mark played a number of basses with Slave. He’s been seen playing an Alembic, MusicMan Stingray and a Rickenbacker, but he gravitated to a number of custom Fender Jazz bass copies, many with three pickups. It’s been reported that at least one was made by Stars Guitars with a Stars Guitars preamp built in.
The third release, The Concept, proved to everyone that it was an all out funkfest. Mr. Mark called a young Steve Arrington, 21 years old at that time and fresh off touring with Pete Escovedo’s band, from the West Coast to join Slave. At the time, Tim Dozier was exiting the group after recording all the drum tracks for The Concept, except for “Stellar Fungk, which Arrington laid the drum track for. Steve’s vocal debut was on the track, Coming Soon, and he also played percussion on the album. It was at this time that THE definitive female voice of Slave joined the group, Starleana Young, infusing a style that years later would be trademark to Slave’s sound, and Starleana adding that female voice that later became trademark to Aurra. Mark’s style on Stellar Fungk, I think was the beginning of a style that became definitive throughout the next seven albums – that combination of deep growl, fingering, slides, and pops. It was the first time I think Mark started to use effects like an envelope follower on the bass (listen to Drac Is Back/We’ve Got Your Party) Three things stood out to me about Mark’s style in that stretch of releases:
- His plucking style: There are times where his pull up notes were clean, and single (i.e. Sizzlin’ Hot), other times they sounded like more than one note being plucked (i.e. Just A Touch Of Love). Then other tracks had a mix of both, like K.O.G (New Plateau)
- The growl, fingering, and the slides: The way Mark fingered his notes elicited a deep, raunchy, but smooth style I have NEVER heard another bass player sound like. I don’t know of it was the Fender Jazz, the Alembic or what…but it was a mainstay of his style. The slides, whether they were in the high registers or down in the basement, he placed them in an uncanny way that made the funk…undescribable.
- The accidentals: I think this may be what made Mark stand out the most, though the I’d be hard say it was the number one thing. He placed accidental notes in his playing that caused a tension, a feel, that took that funk to another level. Yeah, Larry Graham plucked, Louis Johnson had that thunder thumb, Bernard Edwards had the smoothness, but none used note placement like Mark. Two perfect examples of Mark’s use of accidentals are at 2:16 and 4:42 in Just A Touch Of Love, and through a lot of “When I Come Home” with Aurra, but specifically at 4:44 and 4:52. That song is really good example of how he incorporates all these aspects, but more towards the cleaner feel vs the grittiness of Stellar Fungk, or the nastiness of Motorway or I’ve Got To Get You (Unchained At Last). As for the fingerstyle funk, I gotta give it to him on Shine (from Just A Touch of Love, years later, on Slave 88, they release another track by the same name, but with totally different music) and Dreamin’ (Stone Jam). Hansolor ALSO played bass on Aurra’s track “Who Are You”…a return to what I consider his more laid back tones, a la “Can’t Get Enough Of You”, from the Hardness Of The World LP.“
- Enter 1979, and the album Just A Touch of Love, the smash hit off that album. This release had some sleepers on there like Shine, and the ballad Thank You, where Mark showed that unmistakable funk fingering style. Enter Curt Jones adding a new dimension to the lead vocal stylings of Steve Arrington, Starleana Young and Danny Webster – all giving it up on my favorite ballad, Thank You. It was the first time I’d ever heard a bass player making a ballad funk (re: that fingering, slides, and pluck right before the verses started). There was one silly, but CRAZY funky track called Warning.
- That funk style grew to larger heights on Stone Jam, especially on the pluck vibe with tracks like Never Get Away, Sizzlin’ Hot (I don’t think they could have penned a better name for that track), and the title track, while that “finger funk” was heavy on Feel My Love, Dreamin’ and the smash hit, Watching You. This was about 1980, when Mark was about 20 maybe. Everytime I think about how funky and nasty that boy was at that age, I shake my head in disbelief. Steve Arrington had defined the vocal aspect of Slave on Watching You. It was the first time I can remember Mark introducing the style of “pick bass” (using a guitar pic to play), in the bass solo to Watching You.“
- This was also one year before what some would consider Slave’s most commercially successful album, Showtime in 1981. With Steve Arrington bringing Slave’s vocal game to its highest point, he left to go solo, starting with Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame I. My favorite tracks went beyond Snapshot (once again incorporating all the elements of his signature style) and Wait For Me, to Spice Of Life (pluck madness) to Steal Your Heart, that smokin’ track “Smokin’ (had that bass track feel that started like Just A Touch of Love, this might be my favorite non-single on the album), and the sleeper, Funken Town. What I liked about Showtime was the elaborate string arrangements and the horn arrangements, even though all the original Slave Horns didn’t record on that album, it was reminiscent of Steve Washington’s time with Slave, citing “the groove has been changed, but the name remains (…it’s the same, it’s the same game).” The pegged the name “Jam Patrol, Inc” (“Smokin”, “Funken Town”).
- In ’82 Mark’s style continued to be untouchable, uncopied, and pretty much signature through the release Visions Of The Lite. He began to incorporate the flanger effect on his bass on tracks like I’ll Be Gone and Sweet Thang (nice track on Visions Of The Lite) and a few others from that release. Visions Of The Lite (at least in my area) had not major hits, but had a lot of phenomenal bass playing on it, for sure…there were actually some bangin’ tracks on that CD.
- In ’83, Bad Enuff was released, no major hits either, but the bass nastiness continued, again with more pick bass playing as well. I like Bad Girl and Showdown…still with that deep growl, slides…the whole nine.In my opinion.
- Mark’s inimitable style of bass playing got just a lil nastier on the New Plateau release in ’84. The credits list a new recording system that by Sony that was used in recording the tracks. The electronic drums became very prominent. I personally noticed a difference with respect to the way the whole album sounded. Mark’s bass is deeper, louder, and grittier…but he laid off on the flanger effects. The tracks had a big sound, bangin’ drum tracks, even on the ballad “Forever Mine”. At this release, Slave was, for all intents and purposes, Mark, Danny, and Floyd (as evidenced from the inner album jacket picture). “The Word Is Out” is a track off the release that has Mark’s “in your face” bass track. Strangely enough, I think it’s the only track that had an official video produced for it.
- One year later, in 1985, Unchained At Last was released. (Trivia question #1: The title of this album came from what song lyrics from a previously released Slave track?). The first two tracks, Jazzy Lady and I’d Like To Get You again showcased Mark’s nasty, edgy style of fingering and razor sharp plucks, with I’d Like To Get You being my favorite….tight intro, the bass track for the bridge is nice, horns kickin’ throughout the track. The bass track for Thrill Me is definitely a spinoff from Snapshot…flanger, and fingering for sure. Nasty track through and through though. There is one track from this CD, Don’t Waste My Time, that I believe has the deepest growl that I can remember coming from Mark’s bass…definitely slightly different than earlier tracks.It was around the 1982 that Slave began to venture outside the Slave Organization, from a musical standpoint. Jimmy Douglas who produced their debut album also produced Odyssey’s track “Inside Out”. From the minute I heard it, I knew that the members from Slave were on this track. Obviously the track is a bite off of “Watching You”. The odd thing (I just found out today), is that there was differences of opinion in the bass guitar community regarding who actually bass on this track – Mark or another bassist trying to cop Mark’s style. Here’s a thread from prince.org that talks that controversy.There’s been a lot discussed about Mark’s umistakable and and signature sound. Here’s what bassist Robin Bramlett describes about his style on the track “Stone Jam” vs the track “Ooooh” (from the New Plateau LP):
“He is using minor 3rd double stops on Ooooh as well. The song is in a different key from Stone Jam so not the same notes but the same distance between the notes. I hope that makes sense”
Here’s what Curt Jones of Aurra had to say to me:
“Hey brother, I wasn’t involved in that, by then we were either working on or had released Are U Single. The sound of the bass is unmistakably Mark Adams, his sound and touch was unique. Sorry i think the only one who really knows all about that is Jimmy Douglas. Stay well brotha. Peace.”
Here’s the video, take a listen: “Inside Out”.
Note: It has been confirmed to me via written dialogue (indirectly), by an ex-member of Slave, that it was NOT Mark Adams on “Inside Out”, but bassist Sandy Anderson from Unlimited Touch. Why Jimmy Douglas chose Sandy and not Mark is (now) a story only Jimmy (probably) can confirm. My final say on it…if you listen close enough (especially on the bass solo breakdown), you will hear that it is not “the great Mark Adams”.
Trivia question #2: Slave actually recorded a radio commercial for a hair care product company. They actually recorded three different versions. What was the company and what song beared resemblance to the music they composed for the commercial? [I remember hearing the commercial over the NYC airwaves and after over YEARS got one of the members of Slave to remember and comment on the commercial)
In 1985, I was in my senior year of college and remember seeing Slave’s first actual compilation on vinyl, in a Bridgeport, CT record store. If memory serves me correctly it was called Slave ’85. Maybe I’m “Dreamin’ ” cause I cant find any reference to it anywhere.
In 1987, “Make Believe” was released. A lot more synthesized then any other previous release, and while like tracks like Juicy-0, You Take My Breath Away, and You’ve Got The Power To Say No, I think this album marked the moment Mark’s playing began to exit from it’s signature style. Make Believe has some nice tracks on there, but they bit off of Cameo’s style waaay too much on some, specifically with the vocal approach, drums, and synth stylings.
The following CDs Slave 88 (Ichiban 1988), “Rebirth (Ichiban 1991)¨, The Funk Strikes Back (Ichiban 1994), and Masters of the Funk (Ichiban 1996) released new material and newly recorded reissues but they had nothing that really jumped out and grabbed me. In my mind, the evolution of the arrangements didn’t encompass Mark’s signature style anymore, but tracks like She’s Just That Kinda Girl are phat….
Here’s a video with Mark and Drac back in ’95, right before Masters Of The Fungk was released.
As R&B evolved and Slave as we knew them slipped into the shadows, Mark garnered great respect in the bass guitar community and was never forgotten. Here are a few links from the Talk Bass forum about him (thanks to Damon for hookin’ me up with these):
Mark’s Bass Rig
It’s a commonly known fact that The Fearless Leader. Steve Washington, was the chief architect of Mark’s live sound. Here’s what Steve said about what he used in those early days of recording Mark at Steve’s home and creating that live rig, as summarized in a December 9, 2013 FB post from his page
- Cerwin Vega cabinets – 6 Cerwin- Vega v32’S. which were a 12″s front Loaded horn
- 2 Cerwin-Vega 18″s L-48 DD’s
- 2 L48 Se’ EARTH QUAKES long throw Folded horns , tweeters
- 2 JBL 2X 15”s,2 Cetec Gauss 15”s .Cerwin – Vega 2 V35
- 2 cerwin-Vega B 36’s,
- 2 B48 MF’s
- 2 Cerwin – Vega RMH 1 Radial Horns with tweeters
- 4 Yamaha P2200’s
- 2 Yamaha 2100s and 2 Peavey 800’s Bridged in mono
- 1 Cerwin Vega1200 power amp
- 2 Urei LA 4 2 limiters , 2 parametric EQ’s , 2 Furman 3 way electronic Crossovers, 6300 watts RMS or 12,600 Peak Power
- Mark used an Ampeg SVT Head with 2 8X10″ cabinets in the beginning and they were later used in the Rig. I had Mark use 24 cabinets s as time went on
- The Yamaha P2200 powered the Bass Rigs for Slave & Aurra’s live Shows. A lot of bands were using the Crown DC300 but Steve (Washington) liked the Yamaha P 2200 a lot more.(Source: Kev Moore/drummer for Aurra)
- I believe at Martin Stadium/E.O. An SVT With 2 8X 10; and 2 2X15′ woofers
- Strings: Roto Sounds
Here’s a (way too short) interview from March 2005 edition of Bass Player Magazine. I believe the May 2004 edition has a longer interview. I’d like to somehow get hold of it.
“I’ve been fortunate in Slave that the band has always given me space to be a melody instrument and to lead the groove. I talk through my bass and step forward like a lead singer riffing…”
Circa 2007, a very short interview with Mark Adams was done with the online publication, Backstage Lounge.
BL: How do you describe the groove?
MA: From where I stand, the groove begins with bass and drums. In Slave, either [drummer] Steve Arrington or I would start a groove and it would inspire the rest of the band. That was the only way we knew how to do what we did; we seldom planned a groove. It was spontaneous.
BL: How do you cultivate the groove?
MA: What I do is listen for the spice between the hi-hat, snare, and foot…the overall ambience and the subliminal sounds.
BL: How do you enhance the groove?
MA: I’ve been fortunate in Slave that the band has always given me space to be a melody instrument and to lead the groove. I talk through my bass and step forward like a lead singer riffing; I’m constantly in freestyle mode. Steve calls it “anointing bass.” I also look at my bass like a drum kit, using my thumb for the kick and my pops for the snare-like Larry Graham does. That’s what I did on “Just a Touch of Love” [from Just a Touch of Love, Cotillion]. I don’t know how Slave grooves like it does. It’s hard to put into words, but it will always be in us.
Update: Bass Player Magazine did do another article on Mark Adams entitled “Style Study: Mark Adams of Slave”. I’ve included a link to the entire article (thanks Lamar Webster).
Mark Adams on “Stone Jam”, as told to music journalist A Scott Galloway:
“By the time I did ‘Stone Jam’, I started feeling this was art, and I was going to stretch out. That’s why that track is like that. I work up to what I was really doing.
Mark Adams as told to A. Scott Galloway about “Snapshot” for the essay of “Stellar Fungk: The Best of Slave” (Rhino/Atlantic)
“That was a groove Arrington and I came up with. We were always good at taking the beat, turning it upside down, and being emotional with the music. We had to argue with Atlantic to make “Snapshot” the first single, though… Arrington always traveled with a camera. The summer after “Watching You”(a song they wrote about girl watching in Central Park, NYC), he just stroll and just be like ‘click-click!!”
Mark Adams, again, to A. Scott Galloway. on his playing style:
“Slave’s first tour was with The Commodores, then we switched to Grand Central Station and The Brothers Johnson. Every night, for two straight months I had my favorites to study under: Larry Graham and Louis Johnson. An earlier influence was Mel Schacher (of Michigan-based Rock band Grand Funk Railroad). I got that (fret sliding ‘whoo-whoo’) sound from listening to him on songs like ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Into The Sun’. It came from me improvising a way to get to my next note. I incorporated that into my sound which was also a mixture of Stanley Clarke’s guitar sound on bass, Louis’ plucking, Larry’s slamming with the thumb and that sting which I got from Verdine White (of Earth, Wind and Fire).”
Lastly, I send my condolences out the Adams family. I wish them strength and peace during this time, and even afterwards. I was talking with Damon today about Mr. Mark, the influence he left on us as young musicians (actually not much younger then he was), and how we all came up in a time where being a musician in that era was something special. Not that it isn’t now, but things were different then. In urban communities, and lifestyle, the band is no more (save Mint Condition for the most part), and while I readily use computers to sequence, sample and play samples to compose my own music, there is and will never be anything like actually PLAYING a musical instrument. Personally, Mark’s departure has a different effect than even Michael Jackson’s had on me. I guess because there was a connection, a local connection, to the neighborhood we grew up in, the sitting around listening to each Slave album released back in the day….it’s just different.
Here are some great words of remembrance from friends and family that are members of the various Slave fan pages on FB:
Robin Bramlett (2011)
I declare March 5th National Hansolor Day! What does that mean? It means on that day listen to nothing but songs in which Mark Adams played bass. 🙂
The first Slave song I learned on bass at the tender age of…well, let’s just say it was a single digit. LOL – Snapshot. The second Slave tune I learned on bass – Wait For Me 🙂
[Update: In 2017, The City of Dayton has created Slave Day (aka Mark Adams, Sr Day) as officially being on August 19]
Sheena Lee (2011)
I’m going to go back to when Mark was in elementary school, and would perform in talent shows with Phil Dukes (drums) and John Madden (bass), see Mark played lead guitar then…he got his first music fix as a little boy, when he visited his grandma Hazel in Hillsboro, she played Piano. Mark would watch and listen…his ambition to learn was obvious, and like others have mentioned he played with several local bands. We were in high school when Mark signed with Atlantic, he quit to pursue his career…and the rest is History…I know that he was dedicated, any free time he had he was building cases for his wah-wah pedals or playing his guitar on the porch…
“THE WORLD IS YOURS, REACH OUT AND CARESS, IN SOLACE” MLA Wrote this in my Senior Yearbook…1979
Already coming up on the Anniversary of Mark L. Adams death…May 5th…still hard to believe, I keep pinching myself, I want to tell you Doug in front of the WHOLE WORLD that I love what you’ve done & what you’re doing….Mark spoke of his ‘LEGACY’ so much…with this page youre keeping him in Our minds, heart & soul…and that’s to everyone who shows genuine LOVE for him, Drac and SLAVE…GOD BLESS YOU!
Kim Adams (2011)
Dreamed of Mark all night , he was at different stages of his life, at one point performing on stage with a big afro, JAMMIN’…..that bass, when I woke up I realized March 5th was in a couple of days, and this was why the dream presented itself to me, though we were so far apart, he will always have a special place in my heart as well as yours…funny how all the ladies in his life have come together with respect and love for each other, I find it odd, but beautiful that we are connected, and supportive of each other, I know he’s gotta to be smiling saying “this is something I never thought I see” haha..
Nicholas Busbee (2011)
Mark Adams once told me that Slide 88 was the way that they used to perform “Slide” when they were live in concert. I like Mark’s bass solo and Billy Beck’s keyboard solo at the end of the track a lot! Mark taught me how to use the fingerboard on my bass to get that extra thumping sound on that Slide 88 version! LOL!!! 🙂
I heard Mark Adams say in an interview that they weren’t exactly satisfied with Hardness Of The World. But when I look at the project as a whole, it was another above average effort. Way above average. And some of these guys were still teens.
Laurence E. Larri Davis (2011)
Mark Adams actually showed med a pedal he altered for his sound…I always wondered how he made that growl sound and he showed me what he did…he was brilliant! I don’t care how many come after him no one will ever have that sound…the ultimate compliment was when Sheena, Lamar and I were talking on Lamar’s page on one of the pics I had of Mark and Louis Johnson chimed in and gave his respects….now that is great respect!
James Sandridge (2011)
I had the great pleasure of being classmates with both Marks (Adams and Drac) at Roth ’76. We were all in woodshop, which of course meant break time lol…anyway I remember we were all chatting (well mainly Drac-he was the conversation guy, Mark Adams just sat and looked cool LoL..)
Rodney Butler (2011)
Still hurt to believe! But he lives on in my headphones. R.I.P Mr. Mark still untouchable!
Neal Jackson (2011)
My life changed when I first heard Slave & in particular Mr Mark’s aggressive Bass style. Since then Slave have been my Number 1 & Mr Mark,my hero. It is with sadness that Mr Mark passed on Steve Arrington’s & my brother,Mark’s birthday & that Drac’s funeral was on my birthday. I’ll have a drink on Hansolors Day.
Curt Jones (2011)
When I had met Mark Adams, Slave already had Slide out. I was still in my band Starchild. Later on when Steve Washington asked me to be a part of Upstairs productions and work with the group, I considered it an honor and still do. When it was time for the brothers to come back from Dayton to join us in N.J. to start recording what became the “Just a touch of love” lp, I’ll never forget how anxious I was to see everybody again. The first person to come upstairs & walk through the door was Mark Adams, he looked at me with a smile, graded my hand shook it and simply said,”welcome aboard”. I felt like a new man and my life changed forever. R.I.P. my brother, we can still listen to you play to comfort us but truly does not compare to having you among us. Till we funk together again your brother ~ Curt J ~ aka CabaL The name only Mark called me, he could be hilarious at times.
Kelsey Reese Pickens (2024)
Around the early 1990’s, I was newly married and living in an apartment in Riverdale, GA south of Atlanta. My next door neighbor (first name was Doug) was single and living the bachelor life and clubbing heavy. He was a music lover like me and we both were heavy into funk bands. He called me one day and told me to come through because he had a surprise. I swing by and he opens the door for me to come inside. Sitting on his couch is none other than Mark Adams of Slave! After picking my jaw up off the floor, I get introduced to Mark and I’m told he will be crashing with Doug for a minute. Doug met Mark at a club and found out Mark was couch surfing and trying to get on his feet in Atlanta. Mark did not have a bass! Doug and I told him we would take him to get one the next day. The next day we went to a music/sound production business that sold equipment that a Northside High School classmate of mine had. After trying out several, Mark found a bass he liked. He would always play the intro to Stone Jam to try the basses out. So Doug and I got ready to get a bass head unit and amp for Mark and asked where they were. Mark says, “I don’t want a bass head. Where are the guitar heads?” We all looked at him. Then Mark says, “That’s how my sound gets that bite I like. I use a guitar head, not a bass head.” We ended up buying him a guitar head. I was blessed to go by Doug’s and listen to Mark practice many times before Mark moved on. I don’t know how long Mark was using guitar heads and if he switched to bass heads at some future point. I am not a musician and play no instruments. I just remember what Mark said that day when Doug and I went to get him his life instrument that he needed to make a living. He was such a focused musician who practiced incessantly. I wish I had made a greater effort to watch him do so but realize it would have been selfish. He was practicing, not giving mini concerts. He had a phenomenal work ethic when it came to his musicianship.
Chauncey Allen (2024)
I actually met Mark Adams in San Diego in 90 something when that Slave band performed at a street festival. They just finished a great set. My 1st time seeing Slave. But never saw them when all the original members were together.
They were scheduled 2 twice in the 70s in Toledo, & no showed both times. My favorite group at the time. I was in high school. But when I met him in San Diego. I didn’t notice he was standing right next to me. He just got off stage, & Now the Commodores were closing the show a cpl of songs in. I did a double take. Is that….Oh What!!!! I’m standing next to Mark Adams the Han solar in the flesh
Anyway. He was with his woman, I was with mine whom I recently just started dating & this was her 1st live concert ever.
I gave Mr Adams his flowers, he humbly denied claim he was the greatest. I ask why you out here & not back stage. He said one of his heros on bass is on stage. He’s bad imo. But I let Mark know, that to me he’s my favorite all-time not taking away from all the greats which I recognized. But Mark Adams is my favorite because of his style & sound resignates with me far more than everybody else. Ever. Our convo was not too much more than that. I didn’t want to fanboy him and he was with his woman, I was with mine. Plus I’m not the fanatic type anyway.
And we all enjoyed the Commodores. We chopped it up a little during the show which he initiated on a few occasions. Great chance meet. Cool dude. Humble as heck. I’ll never forget it. Oh I did jokingly let him know I was very upset when they no showed twice in Toledo LoL. After the show we dapped & went our separate ways.
Mark Adams made me feel like a real homie that night in San Diego CA on a beautiful normal night San Diego is known for.
He’s in a better place now. Rest in Paradise, Hansolor.
Lastly, to aptly (and fittingly) quote Slave: “It’s about time somebody realized who funk is!”
- Slave Discography
- Slave Fanatacism
- The Slave/Aurra/Steve Arrington Funk Family
- Special Shout Outs:
- Tony, Damon, Julien – the original members of Black Frost, out of East Orange, NJ. Still in touch after all these years, still playing as musicians. We came up in a good time, with some good music. From Slave, we truly came to know what the “definition of a band” is.
- This is a really nice tribute with great words by Steve Arrington, a track recorded by Mark and Cedell Carter last year, and interview with Scot Brown, UCLA funk historian: The KPFA.org History of The Funk – A Tribute To Mark Adams (download) and interview schedule.
- Style Study-Mark Adams of Slave (Bass Player Magazine, July 2011) (full article download)
- Below is the 31 track compilation of what believe is Mark’s best bass work with Slave and a track with Aurra. Enjoy! The Best of Mark Adams
- You can stream and download the Mark Adams Tribute below (7 minutes into the 2 hour show): (stay tuned while Joe Kelley reuploads the show)
Thanks for the read…::: oceans of rhythm :::